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Ministry

The Last Sucker

Review by Mike Korn

The end of days is almost upon us. Soon our glorious commander in chief George W. Bush will be riding off into the sunset. But he won't be alone. Following right behind him will be his biggest tormentors, the industrial thrash machine known as Ministry. Ministry and the Bush family have been linked in a mutual web of contempt since the days of the first President Bush. Al Jourgenson, the fevered mind behind Ministry, believes his band is at its absolute peak when a Bush is in office. So when Dubya takes his leave in 2008, so will Ministry.

Ministry goes down swinging all the way. This is another blast of raw, machine-like metal filled with humorous bile and bilious humor. I would say it lacks the sheer overwhelming fury of the last Ministry effort Rio Grande Blood, but to make up for that, the songwriting is more varied and hails back to older works like The Mind is A Terrible Thing to Taste and the legendary Psalm 69. If this is indeed the last true Ministry album, they are going out on a pretty high note...hurling flaming barbs at the retreating backside of George W. Bush every second of the way.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Let's Go
A gravel-voiced preacher tells us that a "storm's a brewin'" and then we're off to the races with a thrashing bit of metal mayhem based on a bouncy, catchy riff. In fact, a song celebrating Armageddon has never sounded so fun and upbeat. "Let's go to the edge of reality/Let's go for total insanity/Let's go for a government based on greed/Let's go for the final attack/Let's go for a war in Iraq/Let's go for starting up World War III!" Awesome guitar solos really heat this one up!
Watch Yourself
The slower and more ominous tone of this song fits its theme of paranoia and unlimited surveillance perfectly. The quality of the guitar sound and the vocals reminds me a lot of the classic Psalm 69 album. It's a gritty, grimy industrial ode to the 21st century world of warrantless wiretaps, computer-generated invasion of privacy and technology-driven surveillance that is all "for our own good.”
Life Is Good
This track is an extremely harsh look at the world of a soldier who shuttles back and forth between the mayhem in Iraq and the emptiness of civilian life in the States. It's a driving, simple cut that is pretty similar to a lot of other Ministry songs musically, but with grim lyrics that propel it to a higher level: "You wouldn't understand/ I didn't ever really wanna be this way/But this is what I've become/ Can't wait to see my unit again/To live and die by the gun.”
The Dick Song
Our Vice-President Dick Cheney is held by many to be the most Satanic man ever to hold major office in the States and "The Dick Song" is an anthem dedicated to the utter destruction of the Veep. This is one awesome crawling monster of a track, one of the heaviest on the disc...it just chugs its way over everything like a tank. The lyrics are biting but funny: "My name is Cheney, I got no remorse/ Run run run Cheney's got a gun/I get my way or I get to use force on anyone/You know he's evil, he's not of this race/Run run run Cheney's having fun/He used a shotgun to blow off a face/He's still not done."
The Last Sucker
The greasy, grimy but oh-so-catchy mid-tempo riff that drives this song is killer and will have you nodding your head. This would be a great choice for a single if the sarcastic lyrics didn't make it an impossibility for radio airplay. Speaking of the lyrics, I won't go into them here, because the whole song is spot-on as an indictment of President Bush. This is another cut that kind of harkens back to the Mind Is A Terrible Thing to Taste record.
No Glory
We get some scorching high velocity thrash here, somewhat like "Jesus Built My Hot Rod" but without the goofy vocals and with much harsher lyrics. This is a scream of outrage converted into actual music - the sonic equivalent of a blitzkrieg.
Death and Destruction
One of President Bush's inane giggles introduces a sample of his vague speech and an avalanche of crashing drums. Indeed, the drumming drives this blazing thrasher, which is sure to ignite a furious pit in the live situation. The sampled "death and destruction" quote from Bush becomes a mantra reminiscent of the "new world order" samples on the Psalm 69 track "N.W.O.”
Roadhouse Blues
The Doors bluesy classic is transformed by Ministry into the angriest, thrashiest cut on the disc, equaling the fastest tunes ever played by the band. Only the familiar vocal lines and chorus resemble the original. A howling guitar solo and an equally intense harmonica lick cap off this raging monster.
Die In A Crash
The old school punk rock feel to this cut is the album's biggest and coolest surprise. This sounds like it could almost be from a different band, but the speed and intensity is still there. The vocals are noticeably different and very much recall 70's era punk. It’s a great catchy song that tosses some real variety into the mix!
End of Days Part One
This two part track is the last ever from Ministry if the hype is to be believed. Although they blur into each other, there is a definite dividing line between them. This first part has a lurching, almost Zeppelin-like riff that lumbers along in strong mid-tempo fashion. There's a very classic rock vibe to the song, but it's classic rock that has been dirtied up and subverted to Ministry's own vision. The lyrics are an absolute declaration of despair over the current state of the world: "Judgement Day is upon us, I don't care/Judgment day is upon us, do ya fear?/I'm in a world of s***, I don't care/I see this world falling apart, I don't care!"
End of Days Part Two
As Part One ends, a thin, jangling guitar sound arises and Jourgenson delivers a monologue announcing "the end of days.” A children's choir starts to repeat the phrase "end of days" as the track drones on with mounting repetition. To be honest, the sameness of this cut starts to get very wearying, but listen carefully to the end and you will hear a long sample of President Dwight Eisenhower's farewell speech. The speech is dry and long, but the content is frightening, as Ike warns of the dangers of the military-industrial complex gaining total control of the country. The chilling truth is, they have already taken over to such an extent that they cannot be dislodged. So the complete resignation, disgust and hopelessness of Jourgenson's lyrical narration becomes even more apparent. Ministry have in fact become the heralds of the true End of Days.
 
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